Herman Dune
Mas Cambios

Track & Field

hey have a 4:30 in the morning now? Is that too vague for you? Herman Dune are a vague band, a band who I’ll probably ruin my great pleasure for by writing about. But they sound like 4:30 AM in the morning.

Yes, yes, subjective, I know, but there are only a few possible types of 4:30 AM’s now, aren’t they? And each and every one has the same question attached to it: “What am I doing?” I don’t know how much sleep Herman Dune get, but they seem to make music for that not quite waking, not quite sleeping state that… hmmm… Let me elaborate.

So, 4:30 AM. There’s a drunken 4:30 AM, with you speaking far more than you mean to, drowning the ears of another human being with what you think is your soul. The white sweat terror nightmare 4:30 AM, before the realisation dawns that nothing’s really happening. The realisation that it’s 4:30 AM already: what the fuck am I doing with my life? The slow walk to the warehouse for the morning shift: film-noir with no plot and only drunkards and milkmen wandering the streets to flesh out the mise-en-scène.

Yes, yes, I know: VAGUE. Shut up about it already. This is an album that’s far too hard to get a handle on, there’s nothing concrete to grab, it’s all air. How about some facts? We can maybe build on something there. Herman Dune are two Jewish Swedish brothers (David-Ivar Herman Dune and Andre Herman Dune) who live in Paris, record in New York, and give it a slab of Americana like steak. The non-American factor is important: they’re non-Americans composing American culture, living in it as well. It’s non-American Americana, an outsider’s view, in a genre which seems to consist of just itself, Herman Dune are a minor revelation.

I can’t really pick a stand-out track from all this, because Herman Dune do not make stand-out tracks, they make a stand-out album. They create a mood rather than a series of peaks and troughs, a plot rather than a string of one-liners. And it still sounds like 4:30 AM to me.

But you want names, don’t you, because you’re all a load of fucking P2P whores, correct? OK… the Jack ‘not Jeffrey’ Lewis assisted track “You Stepped On Sticky Fingers” goes over that old problem: girlfriends and your music. Jack’s backing vocals, as the girlfriend herself, sound something like the voice of God must have sounded to Moses, such do they reverberate around the song.

It’s followed up (jab and hook, jab and hook, how many times do I have to tell you until musicians start listening?) by “On A Sunny Sunny Cold Cold Day.” Backed up by The Flower Choir Ensemble (also turning up for the album are Laura Hoch, Spencer Chakedis, Turner Cody, The Purple Organ, Mike Scheiner, Diane Cluck, and seemingly every fucking musician in New York with the exception of Nas) they… it’s simple. Simple music, simple styles, hooks, and point: they’re the neo-folk Run DMC.

The album is just vignettes where words serve as brushstrokes rather than anything more, delicate little touches like Patrick Viera passes, with it all ending with a whole, rather than a hole. And if that’s not enough to please you, one of them really looks like Robin Gibb. No, he does.

Reviewed by: Dom Passantino

Reviewed on: 2003-09-17

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